Georgia DOT suspends lane closures during the Thanksgiving holiday, best and worst travel times for Atlanta

To accommodate the expected increase in holiday traffic, the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) announced today the suspension of lane closures on Georgia Interstates and State Routes beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27. 10 p.m. on. These statewide lane closure restrictions will help reduce traffic congestion during the Thanksgiving holiday. Similar restrictions apply for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

While construction-related lane closures are being suspended, the department is reminding travelers to exercise caution as crews may still be working near freeways and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures. In addition, incident management or maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary on any route at any time.

If you’re heading to the greater Atlanta area, here are GDOT’s estimated best and worst travel times:

Based on historical travel volume data, the Georgia DOT expects congestion on the Metro Atlanta interstates to increase beginning Monday afternoon, November 21, and is expected to continue to be heavier than usual through Wednesday evening. Motorists traveling out of state may not be aware of the #Transform285400 changes that have occurred over the past year.

If you must travel this holiday please consider the following Thanksgiving travel prediction for Metro Atlanta Freeways:

  • Moderate traffic on Monday, November 21 and Tuesday, November 22 ahead of typical Thanksgiving travel days
  • Heaviest traffic and congestion on Wednesday, November 23 between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m
  • Light traffic Thursday 24th November and Friday 25th November
  • Moderate traffic is expected to return on Saturday 26th November and Sunday 27th November as people make their way home
Additionally, historical 2021 Thanksgiving travel dates for major highways outside of the Atlanta subway have shown the following trends from Wednesday afternoon, November 23, 2022 to Sunday evening, November 27, 2022:

  • Congestion on I-20 eastbound Wednesday, November 23 bound for Metro Atlanta; Westbound traffic jam Sunday, November 27 toward Alabama.
  • It is predicted that I-75 southbound and northbound coming from Atlanta at Stockbridge will experience severe congestion.
  • Traffic jam on I-85 near the South Carolina/Alabama border.
  • Traffic jam on I-95 northbound in Savannah.

Below are the adjusted timetables for the South Metro Express Lanes and the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes. Pink text indicates a schedule change.

If you must travel during Thanksgiving week, consider the following travel time tips before you set off.

  • The best time to travel is in the morning before 10am.
  • Traffic levels begin to increase in the afternoon after 12pm when drivers leave work early or finish last-minute shopping lists.
  • If you’re traveling in or around Metro Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, November 23, allow for an additional 30 to 45 minutes in your travel time due to increased congestion between noon and 6 p.m.

Safety Tips:

  • Drive alert, stay buckled, minimize distractions:
    • Motorists should always drive defensively with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road during the Thanksgiving holiday season and beyond.
    • Too much turkey? Don’t worry, seat belts stretch! Always make sure to buckle up before heading out into the street.
    • Click It or Ticket remains fully valid for the holiday travel period. Travelers should not operate a motor vehicle without first wearing a seat belt.
  • Drive carefully at night and look out for deer and wildlife
    • Turn on your headlights at night.
    • Avoid using high beams in sight of other approaching objects.
  • Prepare your vehicle
    • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle
    • Check your tires before you ride as colder temperatures can affect pressure
  • Call 511 to request HERO or CHAMP assistance:
    • HERO employees patrol the greater Atlanta area 24 hours a day. It is a free service in the state of Georgia.
    • CHAMP operators patrol freeways outside of Metro Atlanta (except I-59 and I-24) and are a complimentary service.

For up-to-date information on travel requirements on Georgia’s Interstates and State Routes, call 511 or visit before you set off. 511 is a free service providing real-time, nationwide information on Georgia’s Interstates and State Routes, including traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures and delays due to inclement weather, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can also transfer to operators to request HERO assistance in Metro Atlanta or CHAMP service on freeways in other regions of the state.